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Sanders To Baucus, Fellow Dems: Who's In Charge Here?

The quote of the day comes from Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, in a telephone interview with Ezra Klein. And it's about Senator Max Baucus' effort to forge bipartisan health reform through a so-called "Coalition of the Willing":

The Coalition of the Willing sounds a bit strange to me. You have a Democratic president and a Democratic majority in the House and 60 votes in the Senate, and the coalition that is determining health-care policy are seven people, including four Republicans?

I have a lot of respect for Max Baucus. I know he's working very hard. But I think his strategy is just not right. ...

I think the strategy should be to say to all 60 members of the Democratic caucus that even if you don't want a public plan in the final bill, you should commit to ending the Republican filibuster. You don't need 60 votes to pass legislation. You need 60 votes to end the filibuster. And if we do that, we can get a strong public plan that will be real change.

Max calls his group the Coalition of the Willing. We'll try and form a Coalition of the Unwilling. People prepared to stay strong for a strong public option. You know my view, which is that single payer is the way to go. But if we can't do that, at the very very very least you need to have a strong, simple, Medicare-like option that every American can use.

As I've written before, I both support a public plan (strongly) and fear it's taken on too much importance in this debate. But I'm pleased to see Sanders calling out his fellow Democrats for their weak posturing. I'm also pleased to see Ezra giving Sanders--who happens to know a great deal about health care policy, by the way--the attention he deserves. The more he is part of the conversation, the better off we will be.

--Jonathan Cohn